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Georgian Bay Planning Issues

Local planning issues are the purview of local associations and GBA will only become involved in the following circumstances:

  • A specific request from at least one GBA member association to intervene;
  • The proposed development or issue could create a precedent that GBA deems poses a significant environmental threat that has GB-wide implications.

With the mounting development pressures, particularly in the southern end of the Bay, nearer and therefore more accessible to the GTA, calls for GBA intervention and action are increasing. 


What is GBA doing?

  • Where intervention is called for, GBA will first review available information on the development project or issue to identify the environmental protection concerns.
  • GBA will then work together with our affected association(s) and other organizations as applicable to advocate to the municipality, and/or Ontario/Federal government agencies, as applicable, to minimize or eliminate potential environmental impacts.
  • Where necessary expert consultancy support (legal, planning, scientific, engineering etc.) will be applied. Major third party costs will require a special fund raise. 

 

What can you do?

  • Join your local association, if you have not already done so, and get involved – i.e. join your association’s planning committee.
  • Participate in any letter writing campaign that your local association and/or GBA launches.
  • Consider providing funds to ensure environmental protection of your neighbourhood where this is needed.

Examples of Projects where GBA has intervened are given below:

 

Macey Bay Trailer Park

Description

This proposed development south of Honey Harbour has a long history and is grandfathered for a trailer park development. A site plan agreement for 180 trailers has now been approved by the Local Planning Area Tribunal (LPAT) on this 165-acre property at Macey Bay just off the Honey Harbour Road in the Township of Georgian Bay (TGB). TGB is working on getting a project manager with engineering experience in place to monitor all aspects of the project to ensure compliance with site plan approval, to be paid for by the developer.

Location – see map below and satellite image showing proximity to wetlands:

 

GBA is involved because:

  • Most GBA associations have over the years requested that GBA intervene to either stop the project from proceeding or advocate to minimize the environmental impact.
  • Although no Official Plan for any coastal municipality, including TGB, permits trailer parks, when and if this project is built it will create a precedent which may in future open the door for other trailer parks on the Bay.
  • The development creates numerous precedents that could impact all of GB due to the potential:
    • destruction of species at risk habitat;
    • compromising of a number of provincially significant wetlands in and around the property; 
    • significant water quality impacts from an inadequate sewage system; and 
    • docks and boat traffic destroying/impacting important fish habitat along the shoreline and out in the bay.

TGB website information on Macey Bay can be found here.


Project History:

  • A summary of history pre-2017 can be found here.
  • The developer succeeded at the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) hearing in 2017 and the entire site became available for the trailer park development, see the OMB decision extract here.
  • In 2019 the Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) issued an Environmental Certificate of Approval (ECA) for the proposed sewage system without public consultation (EBR posting) and a peer review, as required by the Ontario Municipal Board order.
  • In May 2019 the Eastern Georgian Bay Protective Society (primarily Tom Bain) launched a lawsuit to force a proper public consultation and peer review and investigate the circumstances of how the sewage system was approved. The court filing can be found here.
  • In April 2021 this suit was heard. 2 of 3 judges ruled in favour of Eastern Georgian Bay Protective Society (EGBPS), the other older judge could not decide and EGBPS is waiting for the decision.

Key GBA news posts on Macey Bay:

Other GBA Submissions:

 

Brandy’s Cove

The location of this marina, which is on an island with a man-made causeway for road access, is shown in the above map for Macey Bay. There are ~120 boat slips and the marina targets long term stay cruisers, providing a home base and services, including pump-out.

GBA is involved because:

  • Local GBA associations, the GBA board and a local group of 145 residents (unanimously opposed to the project and working through Tom Bain of Eastern Georgian Bay Protective Society (EGBPS)) requested that GBA intervene to stop the project from proceeding.
  • The development creates precedents that could impact all of Georgian Bay due to the potential:
    • Severe deterioration of nearby water quality;
    • Processing marine septage onsite would open the door for other Georgian Bay marinas, who are not connected to town sewage pipes, to process their marine septage onsite. This has Ontario wide implications.

Since it was built in 1972 the marine septage has been shipped off-site for processing, as per the Ontario guidelines for disposing of marine septage. Then:

  • In Feb 2020 an application was made to process the marine septage onsite.
  • The Ontario Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) issued an Environmental Certificate of Approval (ECA), apparently without reviewing the proposed sewage system design.
  • Township of Georgian Bay (TGB) arranged for a peer review of the proposed system, which was critical of the design and noted numerous shortcomings.
  • This peer review was sent to MECP who ignored it and made no changes to the ECA.
  • Tom Bain of Eastern Georgian Bay Protective Society (EGBPS) commissioned a second peer review, as he believed that the TGB peer review had not identified all the problems. This proved to be correct when the Burnside peer review expanded significantly on the number of shortcomings. The EGBPS and GBA interpretation of the results is that the proposed system could make nearby water un-drinkable and un-swimmable, and could even kill all the fish there.
  • This peer review was also sent to MECP who again ignored it and made no changes to the ECA.
  • TGB decided not to approve the application given these peer reviews and the lack of public process in the ECA approval. GBA issued two letters to TGB in this respect in advance of their September council meeting, see here: GBA letter to TGB – Sept 11 2020, and before their October council meeting, see here: GBA letter to TGB – Oct 8 2020.
  • Brandy’s Cove appealed to LPAT.
  • Because TGB staff had issued positive recommendations with regard to this application, TGB decided not to request Standing at the LPAT hearing, but EGBPS did apply and GBA supported their request, see: GBA letter to LPAT – Apr 16 2021. LPAT declined to allow them to have Standing, however EGBPS was able to submit their comments on the application, which included:
    • 21 breaches of the TGB Official Plan
    • 1 breach of a TGB bylaw
    • a critique of the ECA approval process followed
    • references to the above peer reviews, which LPAT had received, summarizing the potential impacts to water quality etc.

The current status is that the LPAT chair has not yet made a decision on this matter. If LPAT decides in favour there are various options that GBA and EGBPS can and will pursue to continue to attempt to stop this inadequate and dangerous sewage system from being installed.

Press coverage on this matter can be found here.

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